ICC World Cup: Afghan spin challenge awaits Pakistan batsmen | Cricket News

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CHENNAI: If ever there was a team that used to be a nightmare for spinners, it used to be Pakistan. Generations of Indian spinners — from Bishan Bedi to Maninder Singh to Harbhajan Singh — will have their stories of tough times against the likes of Zaheer Abbas, Salim Malik or Misbah-ul-Haq. But all that seems a thing of the past as in two consecutive games in the World Cup, we have witnessed Pakistan struggling against spinners.
While against India it was Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja, it was Adam Zampa who destroyed the Pakistan chase in Bengaluru. Now in Chennai, fighting to stay alive in the World Cup, they will face a trial by spin against the likes of Rashid Khan, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Mohammad Nabi, and maybe Noor Ahmed.

The inability of the Pakistan batsmen to accelerate the scoring rate in the middle overs has surprised everyone. But Imam-ul-Haq, the Pakistan opener who will play a crucial role on Monday, doesn’t attach much significance to it.

“Perhaps we need to consume more proteins and fewer carbs,” he joked, adding that they are not concerned about the lack of boundaries and sixes against quality spinners on slightly helpful tracks.
“In the last two matches, we didn’t play well, and we accept that. But we still have five matches left and it will all depend on our preparation for those games,” Imam said.

On Sunday, their practice session against spin was intense. Mystery spinner Abrar Ahmed, who is travelling with the team, had an extended bowling session against all the Pakistan batsmen as the pacers were given a break after some initial practice.

Players like Mohammed Rizwan spent some time trying to master the sweep shot and the goal was clear, to be prepared for the bowling of Rashid and Mujeeb, who bowl a bit quicker through the air.

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Local chinaman Ashwin, along with a few other Chennai spinners were called up in the net so that the batsmen are ready for a serious challenge on Monday.
While playing spin is a problem for Pakistan, their spin department, too, has been disappointing. Senior leggie Shadab Khan lost his place in the team, but those following the team insist that the experienced bowler is likely to return for this game, replacing Usama Mir.
“Shadab’s experience will be crucial on a pitch like this,” a source said, although Imam didn’t reveal the probable XI.

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